phantoms Suck


1. i cant write endings

"Honestly? We really should have thought of this sooner," Maya whispered to Apollo as they walked through the sewers. The two, along with Simon, Phoenix, and Athena were following the man they had known as Dane Gustavia, now christened "Gluttony". Apollo opened his mouth to reply but was interrupted by Dane turning around with a fierce scowl.


"Hush up and follow. I agreed to escort you to Our Father, not listen to your muttering," he snapped before continuing on. Maya shrugged, metal arms clicking, and kept moving.


"What's with this jerk, anyway? Why was one of the homunculi working as a pastry chef?" Athena mused, and before Dane could turn around again, Phoenix and Apollo piped in with a "Sh!".


Apollo took the opportunity to look around. He, unlike the others, was no stranger to wandering around in the sewers. He could tell the rest of his ragtag group was incredibly displeased. Athena kept a hand over her mouth and both Maya and Phoenix were looking a little green in the face. Apollo slowed his step to fall in next to Simon, who was at the very back of the group, far enough that one could barely tell he was with them. Not out of isolation, shockingly enough, but because the necklace Athena supplied him with kept vocalizing his frustrations against his will. "So," Apollo began, slipping his hands into his pockets, "we, um, haven't spoken much."


Simon spared him a glance, and Widget chirped out, "No shit!"


Apollo cringed. Being cursed out by a light, cheery voice like that was slightly miserable. "I was just wondering if you were doing alright. Athena explained your, um, situation with Dr. Cykes, and…"


Simon scoffed, a habit of his in which Apollo could just barely make out the quality of what Simon's voice may have once been. "It's been years," he signed, "so I'll thank you to not bring it up."


Apollo was halfway through stuttering an apology, one that Simon looked dramatically unimpressed with, when everybody suddenly stopped moving. Dane had halted in front of a solid stone doorway that was elegant enough to look incredibly out of place in the dingey sewers. Apollo and Simon jogged to catch up with the rest, Athena immediately taking Simon's hand in hers as Dane undid an elaborate lock that looked almost like a puzzle of some kind. The door slowly creaked open and he gave a grand gesture before stepping out of the way, allowing the rest of them to hesitantly file into the room.


"This place is huge!" Phoenix exclaimed, looking about bewilderedly at everything as the door slid shut behind them. Apollo agreed, though he was more horrified at the fact that this place had been beneath central command the whole time, with no one the wiser. The walls were covered in thick metal piping that clanged rhythmically, reminding Apollo of a heartbeat. Meanwhile, though, both Simon and Maya looked downright sick.


"Bad! This feels bad!" Widget said, cycling a little worryingly between being lit dark blue and not being lit at all. Athena squeezed his hand and looked up at him, worried.


"What's wrong, Simon?" she asked, hesitantly releasing his hand to read his response. He immediately signed back so quickly Apollo didn't register it, but Athena's expression went wide-eyed and a little panicked.


"Something's not right. Not right at all," Maya mumbled, shifting on her feet like she was expecting an earthquake to break out any second. "This is the heart of it all. The qi we mentioned. It's all centered right in this room."


"Gluttony, what the hell is this?" asked a smooth, relaxed voice that belied a strange sort of tension, like an elastic cord about to snap. Apollo turned to look at the source and immediately proceeded to drop to his knees, unable to stand and weak with panic. No. No way. Not him.


"Major Justice!" Maya yelped, running over to bend down and help him up. His legs shook and he felt horribly dizzy. He hadn’t been executed at all. It was a lie. He was alive.


And worst of all, Apollo didn't know whether he was terrified or happy.


"Exactly what it looks like, Envy," Dane replied, sounding more than a little smug. "The sacrifices allowed themselves to be led right to us. Who would I be to refuse their generous offer?"


The one they called Envy stepped forward and adjusted a pair of glasses that Apollo now knew probably hadn't been prescription in the first place. "You're a fool. It's so obvious that they wanted to be led here for a reason. They undoubtedly have some cute little plan knocking around in their skulls, and you brought them here so they could execute it. Go back to your bakery, Dane." He spat his false human name with such disdain it sounded like a curse, and Dane balled his hands into fists but otherwise did not reply.


"M…Mr. Gavin?"


Apollo didn't even realize he'd said the name until everyone turned to look at him, including Kristoph, who allowed a small, polite smile. "Ah, Justice. I'm so sorry we met again under such unfortunate circumstances. I'd hoped this would be saved for a later date."


"You…You were arrested! For killing Zak Gramarye!" Apollo shouted. Maya gripped his arm tightly and held him back as he tried to step forward on his own.


"Major Justice, calm down! How do you know this guy?" she asked, and Phoenix fixed the homunculus with a bitter scowl.


"Apollo's old combat teacher," he said, voice low and dangerous. "He was arrested, tried, and executed for the murders of Shadi Enigmar and Drew Misham. But it looks like he has friends in high places."


"Close, but no cigar, Wright," Kristoph replied, folding his hands behind his back. "I am in high places." He removed his right hand from behind his back and gave a light wave, showing off a crimson ouroboros tattoo laying bare on the palm. "Our Father had me executed so they could show off an alleged body, but a couple gunshot wounds from a firing squad were perfectly easy to fix after the public was reassured that this crazed murderer was off the streets."


Apollo clutched onto Maya, shaking. "I fell for it."


Kristoph smiled. "You never were very bright."


"What's with all this ruckus?"


Another familiar voice entered the fray, this one putting Simon in particular on high alert. Apollo regained enough feeling in his legs to let go of Maya, thanking her quietly and getting a nonchalant smile in return, and turned to the source. Now it was Simon's turn to stumble. Not quite so miserably as Apollo had, but his footing seemed even more uneven than when he'd noticed the discrepancy in the qi. "Oh no!" Widget declared, before abruptly going stark black. Apollo fixed his gaze on a familiar figure donning white, pristine robes, peering at the group from afar as he approached a construct that resembled a gnarled, metallic throne. Apollo couldn't place where he'd seen this man before, but he knew he had. It was only when Athena whispered, "Lieutenant Colonel?" that Apollo realized that that's Bobby Fulbright.


Looking at him, one wouldn't guess it. His hair, usually slicked back and well-maintained, hung limp and was in the way of his eyes. Fulbright had always been jubilant and full of life, but now his eyes were empty and hollow, like the eyes of a corpse. His lips remained in a thin, unamused line, and without those obnoxious amber aviators, he was barely recognizable at all. But there was no mistaking it; the voice, the facial structure, everything about him. Bobby fucking Fulbright.


Apollo turned his gaze to Simon, who he knew had been quite close to Fulbright. "What are you doing here, Fool Bright?" he signed, almost frantically, and Fulbright simply stared at him before cocking his head lightly to the side.


"I think it's clear enough, Simon. I don't want to spell it out for you when I know you're smart enough to figure it out for yourself."


Maya leaned close to Apollo and whispered, "You know this guy, too?"


Apollo bit his lip, glancing quickly to Kristoph, who had his attention fully on Fulbright. "Y… Yeah. Sort of. He's a member of the military who was helping us with finding out about the homunculi."


Maya's eyes grew almost comically wide. "And yet… He was their boss all along?!"


"Looks like it," Apollo responded gravely, still feeling nauseous. And if he felt sick, he couldn't imagine how Simon must feel.


"You lied to all of us. You lied to me.”


"Sometimes, a lie or two is necessary to achieve great things," Bobby replied, shrugging. "Pretending to be something I'm not is nothing I am a stranger to. While I wasn't planning on this development occurring just yet," he casted a meaningful glance at Dane, who seethed silently, "it's nice to finally get to speak plainly to my sacrifices like this."


"Hey!" Maya shouted, stepping in front of Apollo. "You guys have called us sacrifices before, and it's obvious you mean people who have opened the portal. But what do you really mean? What are we 'sacrifices' for?!"


"You don't need to know that for a good while," Bobby said, turning back to Simon. "Now, as for how I'll deal with you all for the time being-"


Before he could finish speaking, Athena took a sudden running start and leapt at Bobby to deliver a sound, powerful kick to his head. Simon stomped his foot angrily, signing uselessly for her to stop, before a shock of red alchemic energy sizzled through the air and a stone wall erected itself from the ground, intercepting the hit. Athena cried out in pain and collapsed to the ground, clutching her likely broken leg as Phoenix and Simon both rushed over to help. "Wh…What the hell was that?" Athena gritted out.


"Simon tried to tell you to stop…" Phoenix said, soothing a hand over her leg. "Maya, can you fix this?"


"On it!"


Simon rubbed his temples, frustrated, as Maya laid out the array of kunai. "Something is wrong. Fool Bright isn't an alchemist."


Bobby lowered the wall and sighed, as though dealing with an irritating child. "It seems you don't know as much about me as you believe."

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